Redskins Practice Squad and Roster Set
By: Mark Solway
Category: Washington Redskins News
Receiver Mike Espy had a great training camp and a good preseason and was a natural fit for the practice team. He's young, he's hungry, and he is the kind of player that will hone his skills and try to get 'back' to the active roster of 53. While the Redskins receiving corps is obviously set with Santana Moss, Brandon Lloyd, Antwaan Randle El, David Patten and James Thrash, there may still be opportunities for Espy this year. The undrafted free agent out of Mississippi was not only solid at receiver, but was one of just a small handful of players that the Redskins had returning kickoffs in the preseason. Espy also capped off his preseason against the Ravens with one of the few preseason touchdowns that the Redskins were able to put together.
Regardless of whether or not Espy can make it back to the roster this season, he will get a chance to develop his skills with the team in hopes of another shot with the Redskins next year. David Patten may be a little more expendable in 2007 when the 'cost-to-cut' on the salary cap won't create so much dead cap, and Espy will be waiting.
Joining Espy on the practice squad at receiver is Steven Harris out of Arkansas. Harris spent time on the 2005 Redskins practice squad, and like Espy, was an undrafted free agent. The second year man out of Arkansas also had a great preseason, leading all Washington receivers with 124 yards on just five receptions. He took advantage of the added exposure he got in the last preseason game and took a short pass 54 yards to set up a field goal. It was arguably the best offensive play of the preseason for the Redskins.
Rookie offensive tackle Chris Pino came in to camp a little late and while he struggled at times, he showed enough promise to win a spot. Granted the waiver transactions could still change all that, but for now, Washington goes into the season with Pino as the sole offensive lineman at their disposal on the practice squad. Pino fought hard and beat out draft pick Kili Lefotu, holdover Jon Alston and late import Spencer Folau for the right to continue to compete for a job.
Two other rookies that did enough to win jobs were defensive linemen Vaka Manupuna and Joe Sykes. Sykes drew attention early in the preseason with a sack against the Bengals and obviously made enough of an impression to stick. Washington originally picked him up as free agent out of Louisiana shortly after the 2006 draft. Manapuna was also signed as a free agent out of Colorado. It's a little surprising that the Redskins kept two defensive linemen on the practice squad when they have five defensive tackles on the active roster but it was likely a move to shore things up until starter Cornelius Griffin's status has been upgraded to healthy.
Rookie defensive back John Eubanks may be the recipient of the same good fortune. The Redskins kept five cornerbacks and five safeties, so it would seem that an extra body in the system was moot were it not for an abdominal injury to starter Shawn Springs. Springs is expected to return in or around the first week of the season, but Eubanks gives the Redskins another possibility if Springs cannot return right away, or if someone else gets hurt before then. He beat out last year's emergency defensive back Christian Morton who started on the practice squad but was elevated to the active roster due to injuries.
The other two practice squad slots are filled by two players that should be a little bit more household names to Redskin fans - Robert McCune and Manuel White Jr. Both players were drafted in 2005 (McCune - 5th round, White - 4th round) and stuck around through two totally different scenarios. McCune used special teams to earn playing time last year while he continued to develop as a linebacker. Recognizable more for his physique than his linebacking abilities, he worked hard last season to earn the seven appearances on the active roster that he did. It seemed that McCune might earn a job early on in camp but a minor injury, and the acquisition of Jeff Posey set the tone for another berth on the practice unit for McCune.
White on the other hand spent all of last year on the injured reserve list after a broken leg in the final 2005 preseason game. Listed as a fullback, White provides security to the active roster which really only has Mike Sellers as a true fullback. White likely earned the right by showing his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He had six catches for 39 yards this preseason.
In naming the eight players, there were of course some moderate surprises in who wasn't named to the squad - tight end Buck Ortega, lineman Jasper Harvey, and defensive tackle Cedric Killings to name a few. Ortega was already picked up by the Cleveland Browns, and Harvey by the Philadelphia Eagles. It's likely that Killings will be snapped up quickly too, as an experienced NFL player who played in ten games for the Redskins in 2005. Harvey was an undrafted free agent and not ever really expected to make the team, but made headlines and raised some eyebrows when he told Redskin reporters and fans that he would make them forget who had worn the jersey number 56 before him.
The practice squad is for the lunch pail guys. It's a thankless job and there's no security, as a player on the practice squad can be plucked by another team at any time. You can find some of the hardest working players in football on the various NFL practice squads. Hopefully the Redskins chose eight good ones that will push for time and help the team prepare each week.
Here is an unofficial listing of the Redskins 53-man roster for 2006 as of Monday morning:
Quarterbacks (3) - Mark Brunell, Todd Collins and Jason Campbell
Wide Receivers (5) - Santana Moss, Brandon Lloyd, Antwaan Randle El, David Patten and James Thrash
Tight ends (2) - Chris Cooley and Christian Fauria
Running backs and fullbacks (6)- Clinton Portis, Mike Sellers, Ladell Betts, T.J. Duckett, Rock Cartwright and Nehemiah Broughton
Offensive linemen (9) - Chris Samuels, Derrick Dockery, Casey Rabach, Randy Thomas, Jon Jansen, Jim Molinaro, Mike Pucillo, Ike Ndukwe and Tyson Walter
Defensive linemen (9) - Phillip Daniels, Cornelius Griffin, Joe Salave'a, Andre Carter, Renaldo Wynn, Demetric Evans, Ryan Boschetti, Kedric Golston and Anthony Montgomery
Linebackers (6) - Marcus Washington, Lemar Marshall, Warrick Holdman, Khary Campbell, Jeff Posey and McIntosh
Cornerbacks (5) - Shawn Springs, Kenny Wright, Ade Jimoh, Mike Rumph and Carlos Rogers
Safeties (5) - Sean Taylor, Adam Archuleta, Pierson Prioleau, Vernon Fox and Reed Doughty
Long snapper - Ethan Albright
Kicker - John Hall
Punter - Derrick Frost
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